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Melt-down-under: Australia set to broil in record-breaking 122F (50C) temperatures, as bushfires burn out of control

December 17,2019

Australia is facing a record-breaking heatwave with temperatures climbing as high as 122F (50C) in the coming days, adding to a bushfire crisis which has already killed six people and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Adelaide is facing a four-day blast which is expected to peak at 111F (44C) on Friday while Victoria, New South Wales and Canberra will also suffer extreme heat.

While some Australians have revelled in the hot weather, taking to the beach to cool off, officials say the heat is likely to exacerbate the bushfires.

Today firefighters warned they would not be able to contain some of the dozens of fires still ablaze in Australia before conditions are expected to deteriorate.

Forecasters say Australia could break the record this week for its warmest day by average maximum temperature.

The current record is 104.5F (40.3C), set in January 2013.

Some remote areas could even surpass 122F (50C), which has happened only twice since records began and not since 1998.

Sky News meteorologist Rob Sharpe said: 'If we don't break 50 degrees next week, it's quite likely at least one town in Australia will before the end of January'.

Victoria could also record its hottest December day on Friday if towns such as Mildura and Swan Hill reach 117F (47C).

'We're looking at temperatures during the daytime that are around 18-to-25F (10-to-14C) above average for this time of year,' said Jane Golding of the Bureau of Meteorology.

'With the heat comes fires so we're expecting some particularly tricky days for the fire response on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.'

In western New South Wales, temperatures are expected to climb above 113F (45C) while Canberra is bracing for 109F (43C) on Saturday.

'For [Canberra] we're looking at five days in a row above about 99F (37C),' Ms Golding said.

'Three of those days will be in the low 40s (104-108F), so severe to extreme heatwave conditions,' she said.

Alice Springs is expected to reach 113F (45C) on Thursday, close to its record temperature which was met twice last summer.

Victoria state official Gavin Freeman warned that 'extreme heat kills more Australians than any natural disaster'.

He advised people to stay hydrated, keep cool, never leave kids or pets in hot cars and check in on others who may be at risk.

Fire brigades are battling against dozens of bushfires which have already killed six people, destroyed more than 680 of homes and burned nearly three million acres of bushland.

One 'mega-fire' is burning out of control within two miles of a power station and just yards from a coal mine.

With much of the bushland tinder-box dry, locals near existing blazes were warned that the fires could spread.

'People should be under no illusion, we won't contain the fires by the time the weather deteriorates later this week,' New South Wales fire official Rob Rogers told Australia's Channel 9.

'People need to brace themselves in those areas for what's potentially to come.'

Firefighters are battling more than 120 fires across New South Wales, including a 37-mile front north-west of Sydney, one of many that have been burning since November.

While the bulk of the blazes have been concentrated across Australia's east coast, hot weather has ignited fires in other parts, stretching authorities to the limit.

In Western Australia, cooler weather has eased the earlier threat of fires, authorities said.

Escalating wildfires threaten to blanket Sydney - home to more than five million people and better known for its clear skies and blue harbour - in smoke and ash again.

Haze in recent weeks had turned Sydney's daytime sky orange and prompted many commuters to wear breathing masks as air quality plunged to hazardous levels not previously seen in the city.

Bushfires are common in Australia's hot, dry summers, but the ferocity and early arrival of the fires last month is unprecedented. Experts have said climate change has left bushland extremely dry.

The crisis has also put pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who critics say has not done enough to address the impact of climate change.

Morrison has defended his government's policies, but some former fire chiefs say Australia's central government must take more control.

'Business as usual doesn't work and we need a roundtable to get that sort of thinking with all agencies involved,' said former emergency services commissioner Peter Dunn.


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